Green Housing - On a Mass Scale!
By Editors
Aug 10, 2010, 5:34pm

Bucky Fuller once said that the construction industry was "40 years behind" in technology and when he wrote that in 1981 (Critical Path) it was certainly true. But now things appear to be changing. On a recent trip to Phoenix, Arizona we visited a new housing development - 210 homes - that is breaking out of the mold and embracing "green technology" - and without additional cost for energy saving.

This new model is either an interesting experiment or a view of things to come. The market will no doubt determine what happens next. But either way one has to be impressed by the fact that a top ten national home builder is "walking the talk".

Here are photos from the deconstructed model home and an explanation of the technologies involved. We want to thank C.R. Herro and Phillippe Lord for the walk through and answering our questions about how the systems work. Some of the data comes from the web site for the home builder here.

Model Home - Deconstructed for Showing Green Technologies

High Performance Wall System
(3.5x more efficient than a standard wall)

Graphic Explaining Wall System

Spray Foam Insulation

Note: Demilec Spray Foam Insulation seals the home and attic. Keeps the air conditioning in and dirt and pollution out. Spray Foam Insulation provides less than 0.1 Air Exchanges per Hour (AEHs) vs. a typical home with 1 to 2 AEHs.

View of Attic Insulation

Super High-Performance Windows

Note: High-performance windows provide a 0.34 U / 0.2 Solar Heat Gain Coefficient vs. a typical home 1.3 U / 0.9 SHGC.

Example of Windows

Low Water Use Fixtures

Note: High-performance faucets and showerheads from Moen and Dual Actuated Toilets by Kohler are designed to save water by optimizing water flow without sacrificing performance. Dual flush toilet sectioned.

Green part is single flush feature.

High-Efficiency Heating and Cooling

Note: SEER 14 AC and Energy Efficient Heat Pump together with a Programmable Thermostat delivers more comfort with less energy.

Display Showing Hot Water From The Thermal System - The Sun

Pex Plumbing Pipe - Very Efficient

Weather Sensing Irrigation and Xeriscape Landscaping

Note: The Rain Bird ESP-SMT Smart Control System combines the intuitiveness of Rain Bird's trusted Extra Simple Programming with the accuracy of weather-based control to help save time, money and water. Xeriscaping uses plants that need less water.

Solar Electric & Thermal Systems

Note: The ECHO solar electric/thermal system produces up to 10,000 kWh energy offset annually. A typical home consumes 20,000 kWh of energy annually.

The panel has 9 solar electric modules and 3 thermal panels which are on the top. Also the heat is captured underneath the solar panels and directed through channels to the thermal panels and into the heat exchanger. The s-shaped roof tiles help with thermal capture and are long life.

Heat Exchanger - Duct is From Roof Panel

Display showing data collected.

Note: An electronic home-management system that can be monitored and controlled via a smart phone or computer. This also enables data collection for analysis and record keeping.

There were some other features like Energy Efficient Lighting - 80% Compact Fluorescent Lighting (CFL), and a post-tensioning method of strengthening the concrete slab using high strength steel strands or cables for stronger foundations.

Conclusion: The most impressive feature of the structure was the way the parts worked together, the synergy of the entire system. One would have to think that there was vision - and support for this vision - for the effort to reach completion. And that bodes well for the future. Bucky would be proud!

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